By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would strip the California tax-exempt status of a nonprofit that engaged in criminal acts of conspiracy, like insurrection or treason.
Senate Bill 834 would have allowed the state’s attorney to make findings that a tax-exempt organization has engaged in treason, seditious conspiracy, government overthrow or insurrection. The attorney general would then be required to notify the Franchise Tax Board, who could then revoke the tax-exempt status of the nonprofit.
The bill was introduced following the insurrection of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
In a veto letter, Gov. Newsom wrote that extremist groups who participated in January 6 “should be renounced and investigated for their participation,” but said these issues “should be evaluated through the judicial system with due process and a right to a hearing.”
The bill’s author, Sen. Scott Wiener, responded with disappointment to the governor’s veto, arguing that the governor’s suggestion of “mandatory judicial oversight of tax-exempt status revocation” is unprecedented.
“Tax-exempt status is a privilege, not a right, and we must be clear on where California stands when it comes to organizations trying to undermine our democratic system,” Sen. Wiener said. “January 6 was a dark day in our nation’s history, and we should do everything in our power to prevent an insurrection from happening again.”
The bill sailed through the Legislature before reaching Gov. Newsom’s desk, receiving support from Democrats while many Republican lawmakers declined to vote. Supporters had argued the bill would ensure California’s tax exempt status is not abused by extremist groups.
Since Jan. 6, 2021, at least 919 people have been charged with crimes tied to the insurrection, according to a tracker from Insider.
John Eastman, a founding director of the California-based Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and a lawyer for former President Donald Trump, wrote a memo laying out the steps for how former Vice President Mike Pence could block Congress from certifying the November 2020 election, as reported by the New York Times.
Just last week, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol announced it is seeking thousands of Mr. Eastman’s emails in its investigation, according to CNN.